Kentucky 2nd District State House Candidates Discuss Issues
As the Kentucky House of Representatives election race heats up, second district incumbent Richard Heath (R) and challenger Jesse Wright (D) visited WKMS for a political forum.
A few of the topics discussed include:
Potential Statewide Smoking Ban
The last few Kentucky legislative sessions have included the possibility of a statewide smoking ban.
Heath says he’s against such a policy as he feels it violates personal property rights.
“We come from a tobacco producing region. I think it would be hypocritical of me to go to Frankfort and vote for a smoking ban when tobacco pays the bills,” Heath said.
Wright says while he values personal rights, he believes they’re outweighed by the health risks of smoking.
Kentucky Pension Fund
The commonwealth’s pension fund has struggled the last few years and stands as one of the worst-supported in the nation.
Wright says struggling investments and the government’s failure to pay pension contributions make recovery a tough job.
“There’s no easy answer to this problem (…) we’re going to have to make some tough decisions, decide what we can cut, what we have to cut, and try to find new funds that we can kick into the pension so that we can get it up to a level where it can be sustaining,” Wright said.
Heath says a bipartisan effort last year saw some progress but it could use some work.
Heath says attracting businesses would create jobs and relieve Kentucky’s high unemployment rate. He also wants Kentucky to become a right-to-work state, meaning employers couldn’t force potential workers to join a union.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s a solution to a lot of our problems. Right now, we are getting outperformed by several states around us (…) We have to make Kentucky more business friendly in order to attract business and put people to work,” Heath said.
Wright advocates a minimum wage increase to bring more Kentuckians out of poverty.
“We have too many people that are working but unable to support themselves, and their alternatives are quickly becoming ‘Should I work or should I start drawing a check from the government?’” Wright said.
Heath says he’s against a minimum wage increase, believing the economic timing to be wrong (though he says he wouldn’t necessarily be opposed in the future).
Listen to the full debate here: